3rdragon: (firebird)
One of the interesting things about having a public professional blog is the ability/responsibility to screen posts. On the one hand, a part of me says, "The internet should be FREE!" but a wiser and more cynical part of me knows what the unmediated internet can look like, and feels that curation and moderation is entirely appropriate, particularly on the blog that represents me to the world. Being a sensible sort, I listen to that part of myself, and keep the first post screening up.

Of course, this then introduces the question of what to unscreen and what not to unscreen. )
3rdragon: (Default)
I don't think that you're intended to be this amusing.

How worried are you about not being able to maintain the standard of living you now enjoy?

Short of not finding a job at all and my mother kicking me out of the house to live in a box on the street, I think I can pretty much guarantee that my future contains an improved standard of living.

I checked "Not worried at all."
3rdragon: (Default)
I rode a motorbike for the first time today. (Not as an operator; as a passenger.)

In the dark.

Quite aside from the complete and utter lack of ANYTHING protecting you from the entire outside world, there's something rather terrifying about being on a motorized vehicle that small and not being in control of it. I don't know that motorbikes involve any more leaning-to-steer than regular bicycles, and perhaps less (at least at the speeds one uses on poor dust roads in the dark, when it's cold and the driver has not protective gear other than a jumper (not even hair to keep his head warm, poor guy; I was very grateful for the scarf and gloves shoved in the pocket of my fleece), I don't think about the leaning when I'm riding a bicycle, because at this time it's second nature to me, but it's much more obvious when someone else decides about the leaning and you don't know when it's going to happen.

Also making this more fun, I'd never met the guy before tonight, and probably wouldn't recognize him in the daylight unless he was wearing the same jumper. (Not that I had any doubts about the character of someone Monica enlisted to drive me home, but . . .)

And, of course, there was the fun half-hour or so of getting on the bike, the bike failing to start, discussion about "Wamana battery" and "Brake fluid Kabotu," standing around outside in the dark and somewhat chilly, watching the guys pushing first the one bike (and it failing to start) and then the other bike, taking the other bike off around the block, the other bike not starting, despite a few hopeful coughs, dumping cooking oil in the goodness-knows-what of the first bike, Monica's husband hopping on the bike, eventually the distant roar and headlight illumination of that bike ("It's his, and he knows it better").

Conclusion: Motorbikes seem more temperamental than cars, but also more persuadable.
3rdragon: (Default)
Am I glad to see you.

Long story short, yet another disadvantage of un-air-conned server rooms is that if you don't shut the windows and it rains over lunch, it can rain on the equipment. But so far as I can tell, things seem okay (there is internet, the lights on the wired routers are flashing, and my Moodle server has booted to the login screen).

So that was fun. But I was very glad not to have been the last person out of the building before lunch (so the fact that I usually don't shut the windows when I leave for lunch was not an issue), and very, VERY glad to see the polkaspots login screen.

3rdragon: (Default)
"You wretched swine. Did you come back from the dead or something?"

Said in a completely deadpan voice, as if this were totally normal. And I'm pretty sure the movie is supposed to be realistic.
3rdragon: (Default)
This is a new one.

"You'll be my lunch-ee, you'll be my supper, ah-ah, very delicious . . ."

I don't think that it makes it better that one of the verses is something about "want you to marry me," or "want to marry you."

I think that this song would disturb me less if I heard it in the context of my SSFFS friends, rather than my Zambian neighbors, because then I could just assume that it was ironic, or intended to be disturbing and creepy, or something. As it is, I'm suspicious that it may be intended to be a serious love song.


1 November 2011 08:57 am
3rdragon: (Default)
Downloading Ubuntu Server. It's 682 MB, and the low end of my download speed is 6.6 KB/sec. I have seen it get has high as 200 and some KB/sec, but mostly it's hanging out somewhere between 10 KB/sec and 150 KB/sec.

Abraham says that I should start downloading now so that when the guys get here, I can give them the installation CD. I should've started when I arrived at work (and the network was marginally faster). Maybe then it would've been done by lunchtime. Although considering that the current estimate is over ten hours, maybe not.

Oh, the joys of internet in Africa.

In good news, I actually have work to do (albeit 'start this download and then wait until it finishes') and there is electricity and internet, and I'm on the second-to-last row of my Laminaria.
3rdragon: (Default)
My really-not-at-all-boss (who nevertheless is the person with the clearest ideas for what I'm supposed to be doing here) has told me that he wants the Network Operations Center to look futuristic, science-fictional, like a space ship. Because what LinkNet, what Macha Works, is doing here is as much about the idea of what technology can be in Zambia, as any of the actual implementations.

So my question to you is, what does the future look like right now? If you had a huge budget, how would you build something that looks like a space ship? What about a modest budget?


24 August 2011 06:44 pm
3rdragon: (Default)
I'm here in Zambia. We've spent the past four and a half days at MCC headquarters, being oriented, getting over jet lag, and preparing to go to our various assignments. A, who's in the city, is being dropped off with her host family as I type, and the rest of us, all heading for Southern Province, leave tomorrow morning. I won't get to Macha until Friday, though, because the other two get dropped off first, so arriving tomorrow isn't feasible, considering travel times and the fact that we'll need to do a certain amount of set-up work in every place.

I mentioned on the other blog that I'll be cooking for myself. Setting up a household requires an incredible amount of stuff.

I have a new phone, too. It's the fanciest phone I've ever had, and it's going to drive me crazy. )

Long story short, I'm just really glad that I'll have a computer and access to the internet, and won't need to use my phone all that often.

Things are going pretty well, though.
3rdragon: (Default)
I hate phones.

This is WHY I hate phones. Well, not this specific issue. I've never had this specific issue before.

I've never needed a way to say, "I feel that what you just said is very ignorant and hurtful, and I would appreciate if you would give me a few minutes to recover my composure so that I can talk to you without wanting to cry."

I was always a heavy child. There are pictures of me as a three-year-old that would probably be described as "sturdy." From what I recall of my pediatrician's charts, I've been above the 80th or 90th percentile, weight-wise, my whole life. I've always been on the tall side, too, but not as much as I've been on the heavy side. I reached my full height -- I don't know, seventh grade, maybe. I have weighed what I do, give or take twenty pounds (mostly give), for at least the past ten years.

I have played field hockey and struggled with my weight. I've played lacrosse badly and struggled with my weight. I have walked over a mile to and from school and struggled with my weight. I've been a fencer and struggled with my weight. I have played sports for multiple hours a day, three or four or five days a week, and eaten pretty well, and still weighed exactly what I do now.

My research about Zambia has led me to conclude that the Zambian diet is largely starch-based. And I know, from 23 years of living in my body (plus the reasoned opinion of some medical professionals), that it is not good for me to eat mostly starches. And since the program coordinator had not yet responded to my email of a week and a half ago, I called her this afternoon.

I was not looking for her to snap her fingers and guarantee that everything would be fine. But I felt (still feel) that "It is a concern to me that there be vegetables in my diet in addition to starch" is a reasonable thing to ask for. I know that most of Zambia lives at the subsistence level, if that, but I think that it's reasonable to request that the diet I need to be healthy be at least considered while looking for my housing placement.

And if I can't be accommodated, then I will deal, and work extra-hard once I'm back in the States where I can control my food intake.

Her immediate response included, "You're looking at the effects of diet on a sedentary first-world lifestyle; I've never known a fat Zambian."

My lifestyle is pretty sedentary right now. But it hasn't always been. And weight has always been a struggle. I will also point out that I'm currently at a healthier place, weight-wise, than I've been in the past five years.

She also told me, in a kindly and gentle sort of way, that people in Zambia eat to survive and there isn't the same range of available food that there is here. I wasn't asking for an American grocery store! If there is one leafy green weed available in Zambia, I will eat the same leafy green weed every day and get very tired of it, but it will be a vegetable in my diet.

She would try to help, but she "wanted me to be more specific."

She told me that my cross-cultural experience in Spain was giving me an unrealistic view of the availability of food. (I was making this phone call partly because of the paucity of vegetables in the Spanish diet, which had been a problem for me.)

I was trying (and failing) not to cry since probably the first minute of the phone conversation, and it just went on and on and on and she kept talking and I couldn't get out of it. This was not the easiest phone call to make in the first place -- the email was hard to write; it's not something I'm all that comfortable discussing with strangers, and especially something I'm not particularly comfortable bringing attention to to ask for accommodation for. And she was implying in her nice motherly tone that I'm a spoiled, privileged kid who doesn't know how good she has it and only has trouble with her weight because of her lifestyle, and look at her quaint first-world problems.

I'm going to go knit for two hours.
3rdragon: (Default)
Cut for ginormousness )

Possibly there are other things that I was intending to put on this list, but I don't remember what they were.
I think what it boils down to is: I don't have any good reasons not to go to Zambia. There are valid concerns on the Cons list -- but I don't know that any of them are good reasons not to go.
And do I really want to be able to say, in ten years, "I could have gone to Zambia, but I decided to stay home in Philadelphia and be unemployed/work some boring job instead?" No, I don't really want to.
So I guess I'm going to say yes.

Somehow this feels a much more momentous decision than picking which college I was going to, or going to Spain.

Edited to add: I just sent the email telling her that I'll go.
3rdragon: (Default)
I haven't decided-decided. But I think I'm leaning towards 'Yes' rather than 'No.'

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